The sandstone aliens conferred in their own language while Anthony tried to hide from Kyle’s gaze. Which proved impossible as the Butler stood them side by side. Anthony worried that any words from his mouth would trigger Kyle. Neither had spoken since they’d seen Atlas. The council of aliens ended their debate and turned toward the humans.
“Anthony, you’ve failed your bargain,” One sandstone alien said.
A soft, green glow filled the room.
“We needed to move locations because of your delay.”
The Butler stepped in front of Anthony with the large green orb. Anthony stared at the floor. A rock solid hand grabbed his chin and thrust it up. Anthony twisted his head toward Kyle with a last effort to survive.
“Find Atlas. They fear him.”
Though he wanted to say more, the Butler covered Anthony’s mouth with one hand and turned his head with the other. The glow filled his vision, and the world spun. Muffled words went back and forth for a short time before Anthony felt something pull him along. The world brimmed with green light and as he walked the stone hallways, lists appeared along the wall. The first brought a smile to his face.
“Top ten bands of the early 2000s.”
Anthony read aloud, and the memory flashed like a scene overlay in the tunnel. Thirteen and thinking I knew everything about music. They were really his favorite bands, and those opinions had changed long ago. It wasn’t cool to say you liked Nickelback anymore, though Anthony listened to them from time to time. He couldn’t name more than one song from The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, ever. He’d posted it on his page with his favorite song playing in the background.
The next post came a week later. Five signs you’re dating the wrong girl. Anthony cringed away from the list. His “girlfriend” at the time said they couldn’t hold hands anymore, and it crushed his teenage self. The lists continued on, each framed in a brown wooden frame like the ones his father always put Anthony’s achievement certificates in. Some were lists from the last year, and others scattered through his time in high school.
The tugging sensation stopped, and a metal framed list appeared to his right. Three things I hate about my dad. 1. He won’t let me have a cat. 2. He hates me. 3. He doesn’t understand me. Anthony had begun the list hoping for five things, but he only ever got to three. And in that moment, he accepted his father’s reasoning for not allowing cats. His sister was allergic, but to a young kid, that didn’t seem like a good enough excuse. And his father didn’t hate him, but he kept Anthony from doing stupid shit that would hurt him or others.
Anthony was ready to accept the third lie when the green glow disappeared and the orb that hung in front of him fell to the ground and shattered.
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